Part 1 of A Weak Argument for the Parents of Camden District Dukes

February 5, 2018

Genealogists have struggled unsuccessfully for over a century to prove the ancestors of several apparently interconnected families of the Duke-Dukes surname who lived between 1750 and 1850 along the Wateree River and two of its main tributaries, Sawney Creek and Twenty-Five Mile Creek. Their homesteads resided in the Camden District of the South Carolina Colony. Today the area is known as the counties of Lancaster, Kershaw, Fairfield, and Richland, South Carolina. As the Wateree flows through the area from north to south, it is known progressively as the Catawba River, Wateree River, and finally below Twenty-Five Mile Creek, as the Santee River. Also, later records will sometime refer to Twenty-Five Mile Creek as Rice Creek.

Now, in the waning years of my genealogy studies, I will add my name to the list of strugglers with my own weak argument of several parts, each one starting with some of the scant historical data. Scant is a good descriptive adjective to use considering the depredations of time and fire. Richland and Lancaster are considered ‘burnt’ counties.

I’ll present the historical data using links to pdf excerpts from my existing studies then follow it by ‘experience’-based interpretations and assumptions that present my Duke ancestor argument. This allows me to express my opinions while preserving the integrity of my earlier studies. My hope that is by doing so, my efforts will provide a starting point for future generations who will either prove or disprove them.

I will argue that Benjamin Duke, deceased before 1770, SC of the Wateree River, Lancaster County/Camden District, SC was the paternal ancestor of those Camden District Duke families.

Benjamin Duke of Camden District, SC

The 1778 lease and release conveyance of Benjamin Duke’s land from John Chesnut to James Perry give us the first name for Benjamin Duke‘s wife. Mary.

It’s hard to say definitively that Benjamin was deceased before 1770, but the dearth of deed transfer information in the colonial journals on his property makes me suspect that the transfer of ownership happened in a will. Official registration of deed transfers between family members was sometimes delayed for years, often until the land was transferred outside the family.

The succession of ownership listed in the 1778 conveyance leads me to suspect that Robert Humphries was a son-in-law of Benjamin Duke. The next owner, Nehemiah Joiner, Junior had an unusual given name, one present in this Duke family. Perhaps it is significant.

Robert Humphries also witnessed a lease and release between William Harrison with wife Ann/Nancy to John Dukes. The Harrison land that John Dukes bought in 1753 was on the Wateree River, the same side, and about 5 miles northwest of Benjamin Duke’s land.

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